Last week it was Mark Webber's car, this time it was the sister Toro Rosso of Jean-Eric Vergne that was stricken, in what appeared to be a case of rear brakes overheating and setting light to the bodywork in an incident serious enough to force race control to briefly red flag the session as marshalls scrambled to the scene and smothered the STR8 with extinguisher.

"As I was going out of the pits, my engineer was on the radio to me, so I had to wait until the middle of sector 1 before I could tell him something," reported Vergne after he made his way back to the pits. "I thought I had an engine problem, but then I realised the rear brakes were stuck.

"I tried to brake and there was nothing in the pedal, then I saw the fire and had to stop the car," he continued. "The team will have a lot of work to do tonight, because it took quite a while for the fire to be out. Hopefully the main components are undamaged, the engine and gearbox, but there will be many things to change.

The explained that the cause of the fire had been "a rear brake circuit problem", with Toro Rosso's technical director James Key confirming that the car was fully repairable in time for Sunday's race.

As for the driver himself, Vergne said that "I am fine, apart from getting a bit of fire extinguisher material in my helmet," although his early exit from qualifying means that he will now have to start the race from 17th position on the grid.

"It won't be an easy race starting from this far back, especially as it is not so easy to overtake at Suzuka," he said. "I just hope that I have used up all my share of [all this bad luck] for next year, too."

Vergne's team mate Daniel Ricciardo will start only one place ahead of him on Sunday, after the team spent much of Q2 checking over the Australian's car to ensure that it would not suffer a similar fate.

"From what I've been told there's no reason for me to be concerned about it for the race, as everything was fine on my car," said Ricciardo when asked if the issue might rear up again in the Grand Prix itself.

"That wasn't a good session for us, which is disappointing as yesterday was one of the best Fridays we have had in a while," said Ricciardo of his own qualifying performance. "The wind has played a bit of a part today, but we definitely should have been further up than that.

"I would have liked a better result of course, but we will have to see what we can do in the race. I just wasn't happy with the balance of the car," he added.

Vergne's on-track incident was the second of the session to involve fire, after an earlier blaze was seen in the Sauber pit garage at the back of Esteban Gutierrez' Sauber.

The team subsequently confirmed that it has been caused by fuel vapour igniting on hot bodywork. While the blaze was spectacular and saw Gutierrez leap from the cockpit of the car in double quick time, it was also brief and superficial with only minor cosmetic damage to the Sauber which did not affect the Mexican's participation in the rest of the session.